Ask Us 24/7

Have a question? Get live answers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Frequently Asked Questions for Ask Us 24/7

Part 1: About the Service

  1. Why isn't my library listed?
  2. If my library doesn't participate, can I still use the service?
  3. Why do I need to select my library, if I am not usually chatting with one of my local librarians anyway?
  4. If this is a New York State service, why am I often chatting with librarians across the country?
  5. What is your privacy policy?
  6. I have a question about my library card from my local public library.

Part 2: Software Issues

Ask Us 24/7 virtual reference service uses software called QuestionPoint. Some information provided for your benefit here may have been developed by QuestionPoint's 247 Reference and therefore you will be directed to their webpages for answers to your technical questions.

  1. Using the back button
  2. Pop-up Survey
  3. Getting Disconnected
  4. Using a modem to connect to the service
  5. Locked browser
  6. Granting permissions

Part 1: About the Service

1. Why isn't my library listed?

Ask Us 24/7 is a service of participating New York 3Rs Library Councils, and is an optional service available to libraries throughout New York State. It is up to the individual libraries to decide if they would like to join. If your library is not participating, encourage them to learn more about the service by contacting their library council, or emailing Caitlin Kenney at the Western New York Library Resources Council.

Also, keep in mind that our participating public libraries are listed by library system, not by the name of each individual branch. If you are not sure which library system is yours, check out the find your public library page to see a list of systems organized by individual library name.

2. If my library doesn't participate in this service, can I still use it?

Patrons or students of non-participating libraries may still use the service but do not have the option of directly interacting with their own librarians either by referral or on the virtual desk. Simply click on the Ask Us 24/7 logo at the top of any page.

3. Why do I need to select my library, if I am not usually chatting with one of my local librarians anyway?

Since Ask Us 24/7 is a cooperative service, many times you will be chatting with a librarian that is not from your local library. Selecting your library from the list at, or accessing the service from your local library's website, identifies your local branch to the chatting librarian. They will then be more easily able to know your location, as well as find resources specific to your local branch.

4. If this is a New York State service, why am I often chatting with librarians across the country?

Although Ask Us 24/7 is a cooperative of New York State libraries, we also partner with the global 24/7 Reference cooperative, made up of librarians across the country and even some in the United Kingdom. If none of the Ask Us 24/7 librarians are online when you ask your question (or if they are busy with other patrons), then a librarian from the global cooperative will answer you.

5. What is your privacy policy?

It is the policy of Ask Us 24/7 to protect and respect our users' privacy. Information collected about any individual using Ask Us 24/7 is considered confidential and will not be voluntarily published or shared with any other entity. Our Privacy Statement explains why certain information is requested or collected from our users, what we do with this information and how it is stored. Please click on and read the full Privacy Statement to understand our policies and practices regarding personal information and our use of session transcripts.

6. I have a question about my library card from my local public library.

The best thing to do is contact your local library directly to see if they are open. Ask Us 24/7 partners with the 24/7 Reference service and is staffed by librarians in many states. The librarian who answers your question may or may not be a librarian at your local library. If the librarian is unable to provide you with the information you need, he or she will refer either you or your question to your local library, an expert, or other library that can provide the needed information. Because of this, you might receive the quickest and most accurate response by contacting your library directly. To locate your public library, click on the public library system that serves the county you live in. Branches associated with that library system will be listed on the system's website. For help finding your public library or library system's web site, click here.

Part 2: Software Issues

1. I was co-browsing with a librarian and I used my back button and I got disconnected.

Use the back and forward buttons in the co-browsing window, not the buttons on your browser. This will prevent you from disconnecting from the librarian while looking at the web site pushed to you.

2. The librarian asked me to fill out a pop-up survey at the end of the session. How come I didn't see one?

You may need to adjust your browser to allow pop-ups or you have a program such as an anti-virus program on your computer that eliminates pop-up windows.

3. As soon as a librarian acknowledges my call, I get disconnected.

The service is accessed through the Web, using Java applets. There are two things you can do to avoid getting disconnected. First, make sure your browser is allowing session cookies. Usually the default setting in Internet Explorer 6.0 does not allow session cookies which if enabled can disconnect you from the service with no explanation. And second, you can clear your browser's cache. See FAQ #6 below on clearing your cache and allowing cookies.

The second problem that may stop a patron from successfully connecting to the service is the loading of MS Windows XP service pack 2 on a patron's home computer. This has caused numerous problems for our patrons. You need to cinfigure the XP operating system in order to use this service. Please click here for instructions.

Another problem that can disconnect a patron from the service is printing. If you print during the chat session, you may be disconnected or experience other technical problems. To avoid this, wait until you receive the list of pages viewed (see left) after the session has ended. If you receive an email transcript, the links to pages viewed during the session will appear there, too.

4. Can I access the service with a modem?

A minimum 56k modem connection to the Internet is recommended to ensure timely information updates.

5. What do I do if my browser locks while I'm chatting with a librarian?

For Internet Explorer: Clearing your cache:(all versions) Under the Tools menu, choose Internet Options. Next, on the General tab, in the Temporary Internet Files section, click the "Delete Files" button. Finally, click "OK." Allowing cookies: (version 4.0 or higher) Under the Tools menu, choose Internet Options. Click on the "Security" tab. Next, scroll down to you see "Run ActiveX controls and plug-ins." Click on "Enable." Scroll further until you see "Cookies." Click on "Enable."Allowing cookies: (version 6.0 or higher), click on the Privacy tab. Choose medicum on the slider for the Privacy seeting. Click on the button Advanced on the Privacy tab window. Check "Override automatic cookie handling" and click on "Always allow session cookies." Choose to Accept First and Third-party cookies, and click the "OK" button.

For AOL: From the My AOL menu on the AOL toolbar, click Preferences. In the Preferences window, click WWW. In the Temporary Internet Files section, click Delete Files. Click OK.

For Netscape:If you are using Netscape 7, we recommend that you end this session and return using Internet Explorer! Clearing your cache: (4.xx) Under the Edit menu, choose Preferences. Click the plus sign or arrow symbol next to Advanced. Choose Cache. Click the "Clear Memory Cache" button and click "OK." Click the "Clear Disk Cache" button and click "OK." Finally, click "OK" to close the Preferences window. Allowing cookies (version 4.xx) Click the plus sign or arrow symbol next to "Privacy & Security." This opens a long list. Click on "Cookies." Click on "Enable all cookies." Click "OK."

6. When I go to use the service, I am asked if I want to grant permissions. Should I allow it?

You may be asked to grant certain permissions. Please click grant and you will then be taken to our site. You may be asked to accept a Meadco Security Certificate. You must accept this in order for our site to work for you. You will then be taken directly to our site.

Updated October 2008